Some Chicago Police Officers Still Using Typewriters

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The Chicago Police Department has a typewriter repairman. Which it needs because it’s still using typewriters, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. “Police officers, in general, are very heavy typists,” said Keith Bebonis, whose company repairs the machines. “These machines are known to take abuse,” said Bebonis. His company has a contract to repair 40 to 50 police IBM typewriters a year. The city has paid the company $61,275 between 2007 and February 2020 to repair that aging equipment. No officers could recall seeing anyone in the department hunting and pecking on an old IBM these days.

A police spokesman said dozens of types of forms are still filled out with typewriters, including missing-person forms, towed-vehicle forms and search-warrant logs. He said the typewriters are located “throughout the department.” In 1997, Chicago cops generated nearly 1.5 million paper documents. In 1998, the department rolled out a computer system called the Criminal History Records Information System to automate its reports. It was the beginning of the end of police reports pecked out on typewriters. The department uses two kinds of typewriters: IBM Wheelwriter 6 Series II and IBM Wheelwriter 1500. The 6 Series has memory to store 15 to 20 typed pages, an early version of a word processor, and was manufactured in the late 1980s. The department’s typewriters used to be repaired every four months because they got so much wear and tear. “People would spill coffee on them and short out the keyboards,” Bebonis said. “They were filthy.”

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